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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 22 April 2021) . . Page.. 1070 ..


MS DAVIDSON: That is a very valid question. The safe haven cafe process is going through a co-design. When we do a co-design, it means that we are working with people who have lived experience, and that process can take longer and it can mean that sometimes you have to look at a few solutions, see what can be implemented and perhaps go back to the conversation and look at alternatives, if the first choices are not going to work out as planned.

What we will achieve in the end is a better solution, and we are getting very close to opening the very first safe haven cafe. That will provide people with that warm, welcoming environment where they can seek help if they are experiencing distress. The safe haven cafe co-design has been led by an experienced co-design consultant. The feedback that I have been hearing from people involved in the process is that they have found it to be very positive, and that the initial work, particularly in establishing the relationships and understanding what the problem that they are trying to solve is, has been very valuable. From what I can see, it has been a really good example of how to do that co-design work.

MS CLAY: Minister, what is the ACT government doing to help young people to manage the heightened stresses they have experienced with the events of the last few years, like the bushfires and the pandemic?

MS DAVIDSON: Thank you for the question. Yes, we have a range of services available for young people. It starts with an awareness and an understanding of mental health, managing stress and building resilience. The Youth Aware of Mental Health program that has been running in our schools has been very important in helping with that work. So far 2,843 year 9 students across public, Catholic and independent schools in the ACT have participated in that program. The feedback from the students and their families has been very positive in terms of equipping those students to understand mental wellbeing, when to seek help and how to do that, and how to support friends who might be experiencing that.

We also have funding in the February budget for the adolescent mental health outreach service. This provides outreach mental health services to young people who might be most at risk of missing out on accessing the services due to barriers that make it harder for them to access other mental health services.

We fund a range of community-delivered mental health programs, including education and awareness through Mental Illness Education ACT, counselling and mentoring through Menslink, and there is a youth wellbeing outreach program run by CatholicCare which is very effective in helping young people who are experiencing complex situations.

With all of these different things on offer, it can be hard for people to navigate them, so we are also working on our youth navigation portal with the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing. That will help young people to understand how the system works, where they can go for help and what to do next.


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